Moore: There is always opportunity to learn from the past in baseball

From Jack Moore at The Score on October 17, 2013, with mention of SABR member Bill James:

Today’s post marks the first entry in what I plan to be a recurring series on my page here at theScore. I believe an understanding of what baseball is today — as a game and as a cultural force — is incomplete without a knowledge of its history, and a knowledge of its history is incomplete without an examination of primary sources.

When it comes to baseball, history is far more than the Hall of Fame and the trivia of past World Series winners and MVPs and Cy Young Award winners. History is about the people who played the game, their stories, and how those stories were told. History is about the interactions between baseball and the society that loved it and fostered it — how society shaped baseball, and vice-versa.

For most fans, our understanding of sports history comes from something resembling an oral tradition — stories are passed down from our moms and our dads, from our older siblings or our friends, the people who teach us how and why we watch sports in the first place. As useful and important as these oral histories are, they are inevitable colored by the biases of the storyteller and shaped by the passage of time.

So if we really want to learn the history of the game, we need to examine its primary sources. We have to examine the documents of the time, whether it’s to learn about why a rule changed, or how the steroid problem somehow went under the media’s nose or why we still have bean ball wars 96 years after MLB threatened expulsion to those who intentionally threw at hitters.

The first primary source takes us back 41 years: the October 1972 issue of Baseball Digest, Baseball’s only monthly magazine. Baseball Digest covered everything from features of current players to historical articles to statistics. This issue in particular had a pair of features that shed some light on baseball’s statistical thoughts in the early 1970s.

Read the full article here:

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Originally published: October 17, 2013. Last Updated: October 17, 2013.